MVD Visual // 2006 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // July 28th, 2011
You can't choose your family...or can you?
After a brutal home invasion nets nothing for Jean (Renee Humphries, Mallrats), her car breaks down outside the small town where the crime took place. With nothing to lose, she makes up a name and accepts a ride from the handsome Eldon (Boyd Kestner, Black Hawk Down), who has been traveling for weeks with his young son Cole (Tanner Richie, Love's Unending Legacy). Trying to keep her own shady past secret, she discovers something even worse. Cole claims that his real name is Jeremy and Eldon is not his father, but a crazy person who has kidnapped the boy. When Eldon starts to reveal his psychotic side, Jean is forced to choose between escaping and continuing her life of crime, or staying and helping the boy who is begging for a savior.
Family is an intriguing concept, but a pretty terrible movie. What amazes me most, though, is that it was made in 2006 and not 1996. The only thing that distinguishes it from a 20th Century movie is the kid playing with a PSP instead of a Gameboy. Otherwise, everything appears as it would have for a B-movie from the 1990s, and that's not pretty. It appears to have premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network, which makes plenty of sense, given its TV-friendly aspect ratio and generally cruddy look. Confirmation of this is difficult, though, considering that any online searches for the movie reveal mostly lists for the best family films available and, clearly, this is not what I'm looking for. By all indications, however, Family was made for television and comes with all the poor production that entails.
In its core concept, Family could easily have worked. The story of a criminal forced to do good in the face of greater evil, a kid in peril, a crazy rant-filled villain, it makes plenty of sense. I like the core idea, but the execution of the film is terrible. It runs at a plodding pace with poor performances and obvious motivations. As soon as we see the stash of cash and the New Orleans police badge in the back of the SUV, we know something is wrong, and once Cole declares that he's really named Jeremy, we know the whole scene. It could have been better, but ultimately, Family is a lazy, worthless film.
Continuing this sense of time warp that I experienced with Family, MVD's DVD makes me feel like I've walked into a Hastings in 1998 and bought a six dollar budget disc. The full frame image is awash in digital artifacts and blocking, poor colors, and weak black levels. The sound is generally better, but nothing great. It's free from noise and the dialog is audible, so I won't complain too much. The only extra is a trailer, and the fact that I don't have to watch how this movie was made is the best thing about the disc.
Family reminds me of a pork chop ruined by Shake 'n Bake, a quality core turned bland and dull by lazy, poor execution. I like the concept, but the film comes off poorly. With the retro-crappy DVD release, I want to go out and by a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony CD.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated